• Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

North East Connected

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Newcastle Building Society Grant to help Disabled Astronomers see the Stars

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.29.49Starry-eyed wheelchair users from across the North East will soon be able to get an easier view of the night sky thanks to a £500 grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation.
Members of Sunderland Astronomical Society have been undertaking a four month-long project to build a specially-adapted mount for a new telescope which will make stargazing more accessible for people in wheelchairs, as well as for children.
And having the Society nominated to receive a £500 donation from the fund by the team at Newcastle Building Society’s Waterloo Place branch in Sunderland, the project has now been completed.
Originally formed in 1993, Sunderland Astronomical Society operates a public observatory at the Washington Wetlands Centre.  It aims to promote, inspire, inform and advance the education of the public in the science of astronomy and related subjects, and caters for all levels of astronomy interest and experience.
Its members regularly provide astronomically-themed talks, observing sessions and workshops in schools and at other venues around the North East, as well as in the observatory, and runs outreach projects and programmes that are recognised by NASA.
The new telescope will also be linked to a projector display screen inside the Wetlands Centre to enable even more people to see what’s being viewed through it.
Paul Meade, vice chair of Sunderland Astronomical Society and also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, says: “Because telescopes have to be mounted and set up in a certain way, and can’t then easily be moved, it can be difficult for people in wheelchairs to reach the eyepiece and see everything that’s observable through the lens.
“We’d identified the potential interest from wheelchair-bound astronomy enthusiasts for getting more involved with our activities, and had started to put our plans for the new telescope and mount in place to address this.
“As a self-funding organisation, it can be a challenge for us to make capital purchases like this, so to get support from Newcastle Building Society to finish the project off is brilliant.
“We’re now looking to work with local wheelchair user groups and charities to ensure they know what’s available at the observatory, and know that the new telescope will be very well used.”
Sunderland Astronomical Society is one of ten regional good causes to which donations have been made by the Newcastle this year after they were nominated by staff across its branch and Head Office network.
The initiative is the latest in a line of supportive measures that the Society has provided to the communities right across the North East.
David Pearson, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Sunderland branch, adds: “As a mutual organisation, we’re keen to support the communities in which we work as much as we can.
The members of Sunderland Astronomical Society are extremely active in sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge about the night sky across many different parts of the local and regional community, and being able to help them complete this admirable project will enable them to spread the word even more widely.
The Newcastle’s donations were made possible via an endowment fund held with the Community Foundation.  For more information on Sunderland Astronomical Society, visit www.sunderlandastro.com

By admin